1. [As he does every year, the Rebbe Shlita requested of the Chassidim assembled at the farbrengen to sing niggunim (tunes) composed by all of the Nesi’im. After singing niggunim attributed to all the Chassidic leaders starting from the Baal Shem Tov until the Rebbe Shlita, the Rebbe began:]

Our custom to sing niggunim of the Nesi’im on Rosh Hashanah is based on a talk of the Previous Rebbe which described the custom of his father, the Rashab. It was the practice of the Rebbe Rashab that on Rosh Hashanah he would mention all the Nesi’im: the Baal Shem Tov, the Great Maggid, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe Maharash. Later, in the time of the Previous Rebbe, he customarily mentioned all the previous Nesi’im, including also his father, the Rashab. Consequently, we too mention all the Nesi’im and add also the Previous Rebbe.

Mentioning them verbally on Rosh Hashanah (rather than just in thought) is specifically emphasized because the fundamental theme of Rosh Hashanah is connected with speech: “By the word of the L‑rd the heavens were made,” (Tehillim 33:6) “The world was created by means of ten [Divine] utterances,” (Avos 5:1) and as expressed in the cliché used in Kabbalah and Chassidus in relation to Rosh Hashanah: “Building the world of speech.”

A further development of this minhag is our custom of recalling the memories of these Nesi’im by singing their songs. The reason being that song is the pen of the soul revealing the innermost feelings of the heart. Thus, when we sing the melodies which they created, we effect an essential bond between ourselves and them. This essential, tuneful expression is also related to the Shofar of Rosh Hashanah, which is also described in Chassidus as having an “inward sound which is not heard.” Having been revealed by the Previous Rebbe, we must direct our attention to the obvious fact that there is some important lesson to be gleaned from this practice, for our Divine service.

Chassidic philosophy teaches us that the name Rosh Hashanah does not only mean the “beginning of the year,” but also the “head of the year.” This is analogous to the head of the body, in which is encompassed and concentrated the life force of all the organs of the body, and from which that life force emanates and is drawn to all of the limbs and organs of the body in their proper stature. But the head does a lot more. Not only does it enliven and animate all the parts of the body, it also controls the body to function according to the will of the head. Similarly, Rosh Hashanah encompasses the creative life force for all the future days of the year, from which the energy then emanates to enliven every day, and to ensure that the conduct of those days will be in accordance with what was prescribed on Rosh Hashanah.

In order to enhance our connection to the “head” of the year we should strengthen our bond with the “head” of the Jewish people, whose soul serves as a head and brain for all the souls of the generation and through which all the souls are bound and connected to their original source.

By mentioning the “heads of the thousands of Israel” on the day of the “head of the year” we lend assistance to the Divine service of Torah and mitzvos for the entire year; as Rosh Hashanah is associated to the rest of the year. When this is verbalized it will come into reality. When we express this association through fervent and jubilantsong then the connection is essential and inwardly penetrating to the essence of the heart, and then reaching outward to the point of revelation.

There is, likewise, a connection between Rosh Hashanah and the Rosh Chodesh of every month, as the radiation of life force from Rosh Hashanah is channeled through the “head” of each month. For Rosh Hashanah is also considered a Rosh Chodesh, as we find in the Rambam section to be studied on this Rosh Hashanah:

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah there were offered as the additional offering of the day ... in addition to the additional offering of New Moon Day (Rosh Chodesh) that was offered on every New Moon....

Thus, our association with the Nesi’im must be expressed and verbalized, and in turn it will affect us to the inwardmost level, as well as to the external aspects of action.

Although we have emphasized the aspect of speech relative to Rosh Hashanah, we are really referring to the word of G‑d “which is action.”

More than that, Rosh Hashanah recalls the completion of creation:

All the work that He had been creating, to function [to do], (Bereishis 2:3)

which, the Midrash says means, “to fix.” In other words, the goal of creation is for man to go on to work and improve the world. All that G‑d had created was prepared for us to make functional. So Rosh Hashanah emphasizes the theme of practice. G‑d’s word may be action, but for us, we have to go out and actually do the job.

May G‑d grant that by connecting ourselves with the seven Nesi’im, through invoking their names and singing their melodies, this bond will continue throughout the year and it will bring an increase in our Divine service of fulfilling Torah and mitzvos. It is described in the Scriptural promise:

You will follow My laws and be careful to keep My commandments.... (Vayikra 26:3)

We will then merit to receive all the blessings listed in that context, starting with:

I will provide you with rain (gishmeichem) at the right time. (Ibid)

The Baal Shem Tov explained the term “gishmeichem” to mean all manner of material good and “the right time,” meaning all year long!

The closing blessing is:

“I will lead you forth with your heads held high.” (Ibid.) This refers to the true and complete redemption, which will be even more astounding than the exodus from Egypt.

The promised redemption is also associated with revealing and disseminating the teachings of Chassidus of the Baal Shem Tov as channeled through Chabad and which includes also the teachings of the AriZal and the Rashbi.

We have certainly reached the point beyond the “long day” of exile and concerning the long exile we may surely say, “Until when!” Is it not time for: “He puts an end to darkness!”? (Iyov 28:3) What should remain with us is the benefit of the additional good, gleaned from the lengthy diaspora, as the “quality of light out of darkness.” (Koheles 2:13) When the “night will radiate light as the day.” (Tehillim 139:12)

We speak simply of the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach, who will lead us “walking upright,” with our “youth and our elders, our sons and our daughters” — the unified nation with the complete Torah, to the complete land — the Holy Land, “where the eyes of G‑d your L‑rd are always upon it from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.” (Devarim 11:12)

And as Chassidus explains, the new radiance of the G‑dly life-force for the coming year is generated on Rosh Hashanah and is channeled through the Jewish people and through the Holy Land (spiritual and physical) from where it spreads out to enliven the whole world and all the nations of the world. This prepares for the promise:

“And kingship will be the L‑rd’s,” (Ovadiah 21) and, “The L‑rd will be King over the entire earth.” (Zechariah 14:9)

May all this happen, speedily in our days. The Jews are certainly “worthy,” so the redemption must come “quicker” and “with the clouds of Heaven,” the unity of the complete nation with the complete Torah and the complete land; all truly united together.

2. The Divine service expected of every person is aptly expressed in the verses dealing with the sacrifices in the Mishkan:

Adam Kee Yakriv Meekem Korban ...” (lit. “when a man brings a sacrifice from you, a sacrifice for the Eternal ...”)

Chassidus emphasizes that the location of the phrase “from you,” precedes the words “a sacrifice for the Eternal,” to teach us that the offering to G‑d must truly be a sacrifice on the part of the person; by offering himself — bringing himself closer to G‑dliness, he makes the true korban.

Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of Adam’s creation, when he gathered all the creatures and said:

Come, let us prostrate ourselves and bow down; let us bend the knee before the L‑rd our Maker. (Tehillim 95:6)

As such, the sacrifices offered in the Temple on Rosh Hashanah should have special significance for us, in serving our Maker.

Today’s Rambam section deals with the “Laws of Daily Offerings,” and discusses the sacrifices of Rosh Hashanah:

On the first day of Tishrei there were offered as the additional offering of the day ... in addition to the additional offering of New Moon Day that was offered on every New Moon. Therefore if this day fell on a Shabbos, there were three additional offerings; that of the Shabbos, that of New Moon Day, and that of Rosh Hashanah. (Laws of Daily Offerings 9:1)

In the next halachah the Rambam continues:

In what order were they offered? First the additional offering of the Shabbos, then ... New Moon ... then Rosh Hashanah; for that which was being offered more often than another (tadir) preceded the other. (Ibid.)

The Rambam goes on to give us a general rule:

Also, that which was of a higher degree of holiness than another (mekudash) preceded the other. If the Kohen had before him two offerings, of which one was being offered more often (tadir) and the other was more holy (mekudash), he might give precedence to whichever he wished. (Ibid.)

This later halachah proves to have a logical inconsistency. The Rambam teaches us the law of Torah — Halachah. If the rule is that the Kohen may choose to sacrifice whichever he desires first — then why does the Rambam give us this choice as the Halachah — not to mention it would also leave the decision to the individual! Why write an halachah which really is not a ruling?

When we apply this discussion to our Divine service we find that we can group these concepts in two categories:

A) Temidin (daily sacrifices) symbolize normal religious responsibilities, they are tadir (more often); regular.

B) Musafin (additional sacrifices) symbolize our extra special religious zeal to perform beyond the required rules, with more piety; they are mekudashin (extra holy).

When a person is faced with a choice between these two paths, Halachah does not dictate which way to follow. You “might give precedence to whichever you wish.”

Tadir or mekudash, which shall it be? You cannot map a constant directive to permanently set your sights on either one. There may be times and situations which call for regular commitment (tadir) and other opportunities where that extra holiness (mekudash) is really in place. Hence, the Rambam symbolically gives us the signal that we must be alert to see when to apply each approach.

Our question earlier had been, why does the Rambam give an halachicruling that you may choose whichever you desire? The concepts are mutually exclusive: if it the Halachah then it is not your freewill, and if you choose by your free will then it is not the Halachah! But the answer is that there is a concept in Torah where Halachah rules that you must make the choice!

The Rambam had earlier established that the true desire of a Jew was to conform to the will of G‑d. Here the Rambam goes a step further and shows us that when Torah allows and the Jew makes a sincere decision based on his desire, then this is in fact the will of G‑d! (He has fathomed the will of G‑d). Thus, when the Jew chooses, it may be ruled as an halachah, because it truly represents the will of the Creator — G‑d.

Consequently, we may garner this lesson from today’s section of Rambam: When a Jew is involved in choosing a path between tadir and mekudash; whichever he chooses will be considered as the rule of Halachah.

With this in mind, there must also be the aspect of intense joy in the fulfillment of the mitzvos. As the Rambam rules:

Rejoicing in the fulfillment of a commandment and in love of G‑d who had prescribed the commandment is a supreme act of Divine worship... “leaping and dancing before the L‑rd.” (Laws of Palm Branch 8:15)

Thus, it is now appropriate to say LeChaim with joy and gladness.

The joy should be increased because we are reassured that certainly all the Jewish people have been inscribed and sealed immediately, for life, in the Book of the Completely Righteous. For Torah says:

And your people are all righteous ... they are the branches of My planting the work of My Hands in which to take pride. (Yeshayahu 60:21)

Let everyone say LeChaim and sing a joyous melody — a Simchas Torah song — afterwards we will say the Grace After Meals as it is stated:

When you have eaten and are satiated, you shall bless the L‑rd your G‑d. (Devarim 8:10)

And may we merit very soon to the conclusion of that verse:

.. for the good land which He has given you. (Ibid.)

For each and everyone of us, and all of Israel together, will go into Eretz Yisrael with the true and complete redemption, quickly and truly in our days.

[The assembled all said LeChaim and then sang the Hakkafos song of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson with great exuberance. The Rebbe Shlita, stood up fully in his place and danced with great joy and extreme happiness.]